— Forty years of video art — Simon says KTHXBAI! — Subsidise Me? Forty years of video art Not many people know this, but occasionally I enjoy a spot of mathematically choreographed dancing, featuring the primary colours. It’s like a TV screen — well, it is, because Beckett shot it on video tape for ZDF in Germany — with actors doing the coloured go-dot back and forth movements in strictly measured patterns. Wulff Herzogenrath of Kunsthalle Bremen was quite right to keep us waiting for that masterpiece, during his speech on how the selection process for maintaining Germany’s cultural heritage. All due credits to Herr Herzogenrath for reminding us to take care of our Digital Cultural Heritage. — 40 Years Video Art — St Paul St Gallery — Nam June Paik: “Piano” — Beckett: Buster Keaton tries to evade the all-seeing eye, Part 1 — Beckett: Buster Keaton tries to evade the all-seeing eye, Part 2 — Beckett: Buster Keaton tries to evade the all-seeing eye, Part 3
Simon says KTHXBAI! We’re sad to see Simon Moutter decamp from Telecom for that airport monopoly in South Auckland. You know, the one that can’t be sold to the Canadians. Moutter was a staunch Gattung ally, and a match for the best of us. Best of luck with the new job, Simon. Don’t think you’ll ever have to use ABAA in it, but please oh please, put in some trains to town? I know, the car parking brings in something like half of the airport’s revenues, but aren’t we supposed be all first-wordly and green nowadays? — Moutter chucks it in
Subsidise Me? Vodafone and Telecom got to hang onto their 800 and 900MHz radio frequency spectrums, and must be quite happy with that. There was a condition though … some of the spectrum has to be sold to a third mobile operator. Now who might that be? NZ Communications perhaps? I’d be curious to see how much Vodafone and Telecom will charge NZ Communications. Apparently, the entire spectrum allocation is worth about $106 million, so even the tiniest frequency band slices will cost a pretty penny. Or will they? — Government hopes competition will drive mobile costs down
Robert X. Cringely YouTube, copyrights, and copy wrongs The longer I stay in this business, the more I think I should have listened to my mother and become a copyright attorney. Don't get me wrong — I love digging for dirt and punishing the technologically wicked, but just think of the employment opportunities. We're in the midst of copyright hysteria, fueled by the recording industry, movie studios and TV producers terrified of how the Net has flipped their distribution models. Example one: a federal judge whacking TorrentSpy with a $111 million judgment, without even ruling on whether a search engine should be held liable for the results it produces. Sometimes these copy wrongs can have personal repercussions. Reader JE writes: "My son is very high functioning on the autism spectrum; today, he'd get a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. He's also a budding animator and animation fan, who has used YouTube to post his own animations as well as short clips he wanted to share with others who shared his interest. Unfortunately, YouTube recently suspended his account after he posted a 30-second clip from a Sponge Bob episode, because he'd gotten a number of prior takedown warnings for similar short clips. I wrote the below letter to the copyright contacts at YouTube and Google, and got back a form response about the DMCA; I tried again and got no response.My son is devastated about being unable to share his work with the world, to the point that he was literally trying to hurt himself in anguish tonight, and I promised him I would try to do something more to get his account reinstated." (I have contacted YouTube on JE's behalf, and an answer is due shortly. I'll post an update when it arrives.) To be fair, expecting YouTube to know the personal details of all of its users is asking a bit much. To them, this boy is just another Sponge Bob Pirate. But the notion that posting any clip, of any length, of any copyrighted show automatically violates the content owner's rights is equally silly. (Could someone out there in Cringeville please explain to me how a 30-second clip of a show is essentially different from a commercial promoting that show?) Yet that's the nature of copyright law today. Here's a classic example. Last August, YouTube removed a video posted by North Carolina filmmaker Christopher Knight because the clip was originally shown on VH1's Web Junk 2.0 show. The problem: Knight created the clip in the first place, and VH1 used it without even notifying him. (After two weeks of back and forth, Knight convinced YouTube to restore the clip. His account of how he did it is here.) So VH1, a Viacom company, felt it was perfectly within the boundaries of fair use to show Knight's work on TV; but once they showed it, they decided they owned it. Ultimately they didn't own it. But if Knight hadn't fought back, the result would have been the same. Overzealous attorneys, badly written laws, content producers who believe they have a divine right to everything they've ever touched for all eternity, and cowering Web 2.0 companies primarily interested in CYA — it's a bad ugly mix. It's only over the last year or so that the buggy-whip manufacturers and manure haulers of the late 20th century have realised they're in danger of extinction. Viacom, owner of the rights to both Sponge Bob and VH1, made a deal with Joost to deliver some of its content for free over the Web last year and made The Daily Show videos available free on its own site. Hulu, Veoh, and other video sites are making similar deals with Hollywood. It's time to add a little common sense to the stuff people post to YouTube as well. If free video is good enough for Jon Stewart, why not for Sponge Bob and one of his biggest fans?